Friday, December 30, 2011

Looking Back on 2011

Every year, I write a blog post on the year. The things that have happened throughout the months, the things we have overcome, the challenges we have had, and the exciting moments of our life. This is that post for the year of 2011!

First of all, I can't believe this year is over. I actually got tearful the day after Christmas thinking about how we have gone through our first Christmas with Baby A and our last Christmas in England. It has been an amazing experience, and as time goes on it only gets more exciting and much crazier. When I was in high school, even at 16, I never thought I would be married the following year and doing what I am doing now. I never thought I would move to another country. I definitely never thought I would be a military wife, and I also never really thought about children and where my life would take me. Thankfully at some point in my life I put a lot of trust on God and let him lead the way, and looking back - I find that I have one of the most blessed lives that any young woman could ever have.

I have everything I have ever wanted and dreamed about, and I really do live a fairy tale life. I have entered my 4th year of not working, and started my 1st year as a stay at home Mom. I have overcome a 3rd deployment with Mr. Man and my first deployment as a "single Mom". I am thankful for the love, support, determination, discipline, and happiness that is in my life. I am thankful for friends and family for their continued support and love for our lifestyle. I am thankful to have a husband who is hard working and determined, who is good at what he does and enjoys his job. Despite the long hours he works, I am thankful that we find the happy medium to be a family - happy and healthy.

Looking back, there has been so much that has happened this year. So much that I just can't even begin to imagine where it started and how it started. But our journey, this year, will be one of the most memorable years of our life together!

January 2011 - I started the new advanced program for school.
February 2011 - I received my official diploma in the mail.
March 2011 - Mr. Man went to Germany for training, and *almost* sent to Italy for a deployment to miss the birth of our baby girl.... Yikes! I have been unemployed for 4 years.
April 2011 - Our daughter is born!
May 2011 - Mr. Man deploys to Korea for 4 months.
June 2011 - Mommy and Baby A goes to the air show.
July 2011 - Celebrate 5 years of marriage!
August 2011 - Begin our last year in England.
September 2011 - Mr. Man comes home from deployment!
October 2011 - Baby A goes to London for the first time.
November 2011 - We go to Scotland as a family!
December 2011 - Played Santa and Mrs. Claus for the first time!

Can you believe that 2012 is almost here?!

To start the year off right, we will be taking our two week trip to Germany. We will be leaving the 7th of January and be gone until the 23rd. Destinations included in this trip are Cologne, Berlin, Frankfurt, Heidelburg, Stuttgart, Munich, Dachau Concentration Camp, and Neuschwanstein Castle.

I hope everyone has a fun and safe New Year's Eve! And Happy New Year!!!

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Some Christmas Day Fun

 On Christmas Day, we started our day out getting ready for church. Since Baby A doesn't wake until about 8am, we saved the gifting opening for after church and after nap time! 

 Here is me and the baby girl after church! 

 Here is Mr. Man and his beautiful daughter!

This was her "big" gift from us. She was trying to make it go, but she ran into Mr. Buttons' bed!

She became Mrs. Claus! 

She was fascinated with all the bows on her gifts!

She absolutely loves this vibrating, jumping around piggy!

And, of course, I had to do this to her! :D

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Sweet Potato Pie Recipe

We had sweet potato pie on Christmas Day! It has been so long since either of us had this, so we thought we would cook one for Christmas! It was my first time, and it came out delicious! I thought I would share the recipe.

Sweet Potato Pie:


1 lb. sweet potatoes
1/2 cup of butter, softened
1 cup white sugar
1/2 cup of milk
2 eggs
1/2 tsp of ground nutmeg
1/2 tsp of ground cinnamon
1 tsp of vanilla extract
1 (9 inch) unbaked pie crust


1. Boil sweet potato whole in skin for 40-50 minutes, or until done. Run cold water over the sweet potato and remove the skin.

2. Break apart the sweet potato in a bowl. Add butter, and mix well with a mixer. Stir in the sugar, milk, eggs, nutmeg, cinnamon, and vanilla. Beat on medium speed until mixture is smooth. Pour filling into an unbaked pie crust.

3. Bake at 350 degrees for 55-60 minutes, or until a knife (or toothpick) can be inserted in the center and comes out clean.

*The pie will puff up, and then will sink down as it cools.

I thought it was a success since it was my first time making one! I enjoyed the process and did not realize it was so easy to do! So many people use can filling, but this is just as easy!

As always, if you try it let me know what you think! Mr. Man ate two pieces on Christmas day, which of course made me proud!

I hope everyone also had lots of yummy food during the holidays!

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

101 in 1001 Days: Update

I wanted to update you all on my progress with 101 in 1001 Days. I have accomplished a few things within the last couple of months, so I thought I would update it while I am thinking about it. My end date is the middle of February of 2013. I can't wait to see how far we have gone in life and how much of these I actually accomplish. This will be an exciting next few years. 

If you want to join in, you can create your list at I hope you enjoy my list and get inspired to create your own!

My Project:
1. Go horseback riding.
2. Get a job.
3. Go to a concert.
4. Go camping.
5. Dance in the rain.
6. Visit Egypt.
7. Buy a car.
8. Try 5 new foods.--Main dishes. 
9. Visit Italy. 
10. Visit Germany.
- Leave January 7, 2012.
11. Visit France.
12. Try 5 new vegetables.
13. Visit an aquarium.
14. Go biking.
15. Use only reusable grocery bags.
         -working on that.
16. Crochet a scarf.
17. Eat at 5 new restaurants. 
18. Finish a scrapbook.
19. Buy new couches.
       -Purchased on Monday, June 28, 2010
20. Graduate from college. 
21. Donate to a charity.
        -East Anglia Hospice
22. Learn how to make sushi.
23. Visit 5 castles.
24. Try 10 new wines.        
25. Visit Ireland.
26. Paint a painting.
27. Host a BBQ.
28. Stretch everyday for a month.
29. Start a family.
        -Born: April 5, 2011
30. Learn to Crochet.
31. Redecorate a room.
32. Learn how to eat with chopsticks.
33. See a musical in London.
34. Go scuba diving.
35. Swim in a large body of water.
        -Lido, Venice, Italy.
36. Find 100 things that make me happy.
37. Make 5 New Friends.
38. Clean out my closet and donate the things I don't use.
39. Run a 5K with others.
40. Go to church every Sunday for 3 months straight.
41. Have 2 sets of family photos done within 2 separate years.
42. Go on a last minute mini vacation.
43. Read 5 books (not including my school books).
44. Go on a fossil hunt.
45. Attend 10 museums.
46. Pass the teaching certificate test.
47. Climb to the top of something high.
        -I did a lot of this in Italy. I will name the places once I gather their names.
48. Make all A's and B's in school.
        -So far all A's!
49. Build a sand castle with Mr. Man.
50. Visit Snowdonia.
         -October 2010.
51. Print out pictures of vacations and put them in memory books.
52. Touch an animal that I am scared of.
53. Get a second Miniature Schnauzer.
54. Find 50 things that inspire me to be a better person.
        -Teen Moms
55. Support a cause.
        -We actually support many every year. We do Christmas Operation, Toys for Tots, Cancer Research, etc.
56. Collect refrigerator magnets or postcards from major places. 
       -Italy-(Siena, Rome,  Pisa)
       -Dublin, Ireland
       -Edinburgh and Inverness/Loch Ness, Scotland
57. Drink protein shakes regularly for a month.
58. Send care packages to troops from other military services.
59. Write a story about how I see and want my future and open it later in life.
60. Say No to people who ask me for favors when I am already busy.
61. Go to the eye doctor every year.
62. Celebrate my birthday in style.
63. Have movie night once every 3 months.
        -Doing this.
64. Get lost somewhere and find my way back.
65. Get fit! (The way I see it.)
66. Sell/Pay off our house.
67. Do not complain for a week.
68. Do not eat ice cream for a full summer.
69. Submit 5 photos to a digital photograph school.
70. Start Master's Program.
71. Renew our wedding vows in a Catholic Church.
72. Open a TSP or IRA.
73. Keep $10,000 in savings.
        -So far, so good.
        - Now working on keeping $20,000.
74. Start a separate savings for our children.
75. Lay out at night with Mr. Man and look at the stars.
76. Crochet a pair of booties.
77. Attempt to learn how to play a PS3 war game. 
       -Accomplished on  June 9, 2010. I'm HORRIBLE at this.
78. Only buy necessities for a month- 3 times.
79. Stay on Mr. Man's butt to finish school.
80. Take a fitness progression picture every couple of months.
81. Make 5 baby blankets.
82. Attempt to Ski or Snowboard.
83. Go hiking again.
84. Try 3 new fruits.
85. Learn how to use the weed wacker.
86. Drive somewhere using only a map.
87. Take professional bodybuilding pictures.
88. Give 10% of income to church for 5 months.
89. Recycle a Christmas tree.
90. Go canoeing, kayaking, or paddling.
91. Use no butter for a week.
92. Make homemade cards for an event or holiday.
        -Christmas 2010
        -Announcement/Thank You Cards
93. Cook 26 dishes in a row from A-Z.
94. Do not eat Chinese Food for 6 months straight.
95. Volunteer at a local school or nursery.
96. Commit to a date night every 3 to 5 months.
97. Do morning cardio outside during the summer months.
98. Let 5 people know how much I appreciate them.
99. Go to Disney World, Disney Land, or Euro Disney.
100. Learn a new dancing style.
101. Donate a dollar for every thing on this list that I do not accomplish to any organization of my choice.

Monday, December 26, 2011

Magic Reindeer Food and Poem:

Many people asked about the Magic Reindeer Food that we made to sprinkle on Christmas Eve. Even though it is after Christmas, I thought I would go ahead and share. Many of you could save this for next year! I do wish I would have posted this early. Next year, I will be sure to spend all of December posting things that we do during Christmas, and the things that are kid friendly. 

The Magic Reindeer Food (or Dust) is something that many parents (and teachers) have been doing for years. I decided that I wanted to do this whenever I had children, and my time has finally come! 

Magic Reindeer Food is simple and inexpensive to make. All you need is some oats and some colored sugar sprinkles (or glitter). I use the sugar sprinkles because they are biodegradable and safe for the birds - as some people have told me. The amount depends on how much you want to make and where you want to sprinkle it. 

Since we live in base housing, we only sprinkled it at our doorstep in the grass. I used a 1/2 cup of oats and a 1/4 cup of sugar sprinkles (I chose red!). I mixed the two together and let Baby A sprinkle it by our doorstep. She did not try to eat it.... she understands what is meant to be eaten and what isn't. But if you have a child who WILL eat this, especially an infant, be extra careful or sprinkle yourself. 

For us, by the morning, most of it was gone. It "looked" as if the reindeer truly did have a snack, but Baby A is still too little to understand but this year was our test to see if it would be gone by morning. 

There is a cute little poem that goes with it. I know many people who make it and put it in ziploc bags or glass jars, tie a ribbon around it, and put a tag with this poem on it. 

Make a wish and close your eyes tight,
Sprinkle this on your lawn Christmas Eve night, 
As Santa and his reindeer roam,
This sparkly dust will lead them to your home,
The reindeer will love their oatmeal snack,
While they are waiting for Santa to come back. 

There are a variety of poems. The one above is my favorite. It's the cutest, but yet still short and to the point. 

My second favorite is this one...
Inside this special package is a treat
but not for you!
It contains magical reindeer food 
and here is what you do.
Sprinkle this magical reindeer food
carefully on the ground.
And tonight if you are lucky
Santa's reindeer will come around.
But here's a secret I have to tell,
one you must try to keep.
That Santa's reindeer only come
when you are fast asleep.
So quickly put your jammies on
and get a story read,
Then sprinkle this magic treat outside
and hurry off to bed!

The one above is cute if you do it as a craft with a group of children. The poem is a bit longer, but it is super cute and explains how to use it if they bring it home to their parents. 

Such a fun, easy, and inexpensive craft to do for Christmas!! 

I hope everyone had a fantastic Christmas, and enjoy your time with your family!

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Christmas Questionnaire: Part 3

Part 3 of the Christmas Questionnaire. If you are interested, be sure to check out the other two!!

25. What do you want for Christmas this year?
I did  not ask for anything. There were some things that I would like to have, but nothing that I just had to have. Husband caved and told me what he got us.... a new camera lens.

26. When does your family open gifts?
Christmas morning. This year since it is on a Sunday and Baby A doesn't wake until 8am, we will do it after church.

27. What is the best gift you have ever gotten?
I always enjoyed when my Mom would give me cash to go shopping.

28. What's the worst gift you have ever gotten?
I really have never received a horrible gift, BUT this one time I received an alarm clock. I was about 10 or 11 years old. It was at the Christmas Eve party when we exchanged gifts. Someone that barely knew me drew my name that year, and they got it for me. To be honest, it was the best clock ever. And I have had it ever since. Well... until we moved here. It got lost during the move.

29. Who gives you the most gifts?
When I was little, my Mom/Dad and Maw and Paw gave me the most gifts. But now, it's Mr. Man.

30. Have you ever had a secret Santa?
Yes, actually. When I was in school.

31. Do you like wrapping gifts?
I do like picking out paper and having fun wrapping just to go back through all the gifts, but I am horrible at it. I guess practice makes perfect.

32. Do you make cookies?
Something we have decided to do is bake something for Jesus for his birthday on Christmas Eve, and we will share a piece with Santa. We also make magic reindeer feed.

33. Have you ever gotten a kiss under mistletoe?
Never a real mistletoe, but every year my husband puts a fake mistletoe somewhere in our house and when I stand under it, he randomly runs up and kisses me. It's cute and fun little game to play. And now he does it with Baby A.

34. Do you go carolling?
No, not like how it was in the states. We do go to church carolling services.

35. Do you drive around and look at Christmas lights?
When we were in the states, yes. It is a must, and I miss it so much! But here, it isn't the same. Not many houses decorate.

36. Who and where do you celebrate Christmas with?
We celebrate as a family. I feel it is extremely important to spend it with your immediate family. Mr. Man, myself, Baby A, and Mr. Buttons, and at our home.

37. Have you ever had a White Christmas?
YES!!! In England, year before last. The one that Mr. Man deployed right after.

38. Does your family take a picture at Christmas?
Yes, we always take pictures now that we have the baby.

39. What is your favorite Christmas scent?
The smell of a real tree, apple cinnamon, and apple pie!

40. What year is it?

Well, again over 10, but it is complete! Hope you enjoyed. I know I will enjoy coming back and seeing how my taste change and what traditions remain the same!

Merry Christmas!

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Christmas Questionnaire: Part 2

Another part to the Christmas Questionnaire I started yesterday!

11. Do you celebrate Christmas Eve?
On Christmas Eve, we use to meet at my Dad's side of the family's party and exchange gifts. This year we are starting a new tradition of watching Christmas movies, sipping hot cocoa, cooking gumbo, and staying in our PJ's.

12. Do you hang up stockings?
Yes, we have a stocking for Mr. Man, myself, Baby A, and Mr. Buttons.

13. Does your family read "Twas the night before Christmas"?
We do not read it as a family, but we do have it. I read to Baby A every night, so Christmas Eve we will read this book.

14. What is your favorite Christmas movie?
To be honest, I have a few. Christmas Story, Christmas Vacation, Miracle on 34th Street, and Home Alone.

15. Who is your favorite character from any Christmas movie?
Ralphie!! Not sure if I spelt that right.

16. What is your favorite Christmas song?
Little Drummer Boy, Silent Night, and - to sing with the kids - Rudolph the Red Noise Reindeer.

17. What is your favorite Christmas memory?
I was blessed to have many really awesome Christmas's. I would say that the one that sticks out the most was the first year that my Mom gave me and my sister $1,500. We took it the next day shopping during the sales. We went to 3 malls in two states that day. It was a blast!

18. Would you rather give or receive?
No one can lie. They love to receive, but some love to equally give. This year I can proudly say that we gave in the same amount that we spent on our family to the less fortunate children, Angels, and Toys for Tots.

19. Do you prefer eggnog or cider?
I love cider!!

20. Which color do you like more - Red or Green?
Red is my 3rd favorite color, tied with purple.

21. Ham or Turkey?
Depends on how each are cooked. Lately, it has been ham - my ham.

22. Do you put a star or angel on the top of your tree?
We have had a star since I was little. Mr. Man and I still have a star, but I am ready for an angel or bow.

23. White Lights or Colored Lights?

24. Blinking lights or still lights?
Blinking on a tree. Still on the outside of houses.

So I went over 10 because I felt the last few went with one another and were simple answers. Remember if you answer these as well, leave a comment with the URL so I can read them myself. I love hearing other people's traditions!

Friday, December 23, 2011

Christmas Questionnaire: Part 1

A Christmas Questionnaire for a bit of fun! If you join the fun, leave a comment with the URL so I can read yours!! :D 

1. Does your family send Christmas Cards out? 
In the past, we really didn't. We will start now since we have Baby A. Checkout this post with our card this year.

2. How soon do you start shopping?
From January to October, we put money into a separate savings account for this. I generally start shopping by September/October. This year we were thankful that we didn't have to buy much because Baby A was gifted so much and she's only 8 months old. She really doesn't need much. We set an allowance for her, and the extra money that isn't spent we put in her savings account. 

3. Who do you shop for?
Mr. Man and I shop for us a gift together. This year we got a new lens for our camera. We, of course, shop for Baby A. This year we bought her 6 gifts - 3 books, 2 movies, and 1 larger toy that is a ride on, sit and play, and standing/walking toy. I also buy for my Mom from me and my brother, and we generally get picture gifts for our grandparents and other parents because we never know what to get them.

4. Do you put up a Christmas tree? 
Yes, we put up a tree every year. There has only been 2 years that we did not have a tree. One year was when Mr. Man was deployed for the holidays. We do real trees, so I put up an extremely small artificial tree because I went home for the weekend of Christmas. Then year before last when Mr. Man went to Afghanistan, he was scheduled to leave the day before Christmas so I didn't feel I could do a tree by myself with having to send it to a special place to dispose of, so I did the small tree again - even though he didn't deploy until 29 of December. 

5. If so, is it real or fake?
We love real trees! The smell is absolutely amazing!

6. Do you like tinsel?
Some years, yes. Others, no. Depends on which ornaments I want to use. It changes every year. This year we have tinsel.

7. Do you use handmade or store bought ornaments?
We have a little of both. This year we made salt dough ornaments, so we could make one with Baby A's foot print for her first Christmas!

8. Do you put Christmas lights outside of your house?
When we were in the states, we did. We have not since being here and in base housing. Too many rules to keep up with and we have to have them off by 8pm every night. 

9. Do you put lights on your tree?
Yes, we do!! I like the ones that have the different blinking patterns. You can set them to blink fast, slow, in a rhythm, or not at all. 

10. Is there a wreath hanging on your door?
Yes, there is. It is dried apples with cinnamon sticks. It has red sparkly ornaments and holly berries as decorations. Smells great when you walk up to our door! 

All together there is 50-ish questions, so there will be multiple parts. 10 a day sounds like a plan! 

Hope you are enjoying your Friday! 

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Blessing Bags: A way to give back this holiday season.

Recently, I have been thinking about things that I am grateful for, things that I am very blessed to have, and some basic things that I have that are often taken for granted. I have been seeing "Blessing Bags" circling the air between blogger, facebook, and pinterest, so I thought I would share my version of the Blessing Bags in hopes that it may put others in the giving spirit this holiday season.

Blessing Bags are easy and fun. They are also an inexpensive way to give a small gift to someone in need or to a neighbor. The Blessing Bags started as a way to give to local charities, especially the homeless. Many people do not want to give the homeless money because they are afraid of where that money will go and what it will be used on. Blessing Bags are a great way to give a homeless (or other person in need) some basic essentials to brighten their daily life. It will help get their mind off of their daily struggles, and the most powerful thing of all is that these bags are not taken for granted. Any individual who is in need will appreciate this little bag of goodies and be so thankful for such a thoughtful person.

The original idea of the Blessing Bag was a way to create a bag full of small/travel sized necessities for people in need. An example includes:

A bag (even a ziploc) full of:
travel sized toothpaste
travel sized toothbrush
travel sized shampoo
travel sized conditioner
travel sized deodorant
travel sized body spray
disposable razor
travel size shaving cream
travel size q-tips
travel size tissues
bar of soap

It can even include small items of food, such as:
crackers with cheese/peanut butter
fruit cup
applesauce cup

Even travel sized medicines, such as tylenol, motrin, etc.

That was the basic idea. The idea of giving this holiday season.

Since I was a bit late on discover this great idea, I decided to take a different approach. I decided to find local military families whose spouses are deployed during this time. In my neighborhood, there are several.

My approach is to send them love and happiness, and a touch of warmth for this holiday season. To let others know that we are here for them and love and support them.

For my bag, I gathered several brown lunch bags. I baked lots of baked goods. Breads, Gingerbread men, cookies, brownies, muffins, fudge, etc. I put a little of each in each bag. I also put individual packages of hot cocoa and marshmallows. I punched holes in the bag to tie ribbon to close it tight. I also put a tag on the ribbon with a quote of thanks and blessings.

Tomorrow I will be sending these to each of the houses while they are out for the day.

As a military spouse myself who has had her husband deployed during the holiday season, I know just how much it would mean to me. How thankful, and how excited I would be to know that people cared, loved, and supported me and my family during that time. I hope that this small gift of giving to these local families will bring a sense of warmth to their holidays.

Did you do any gift giving this year? If so, what did you do? I would love to hear other ideas and  your way of giving during this time of year, whether you are a military spouse or not!

Merry Christmas to everyone, and Hope you all have a happy New year!! 2012 is just around the corner!

Stationery card

Pretty Pattern Christmas Card
View the entire collection of cards.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Wishful Wednesday: New Vehicle?

Mr. Man and I have been shopping around for new cars. We haven't decided what we want to get or when we will actually get one, but we know it will be soon enough. I like to shop around and fall in love with something before I just up and buy it.

I can't decide if I want another car or if I want an SUV. All this will depend on where we go next and how soon we leave. So a lot of things are in the air. But here are the vehicles I would love to have that are definitely in the run!

Nissan Altima

Audi Q7

Audi A4

I have gone back and forth between the A4 and A6, but I prefer the look of the A4. As far as the SUV, I am having a hard time because I am super picky and Mr. Man refuses to allow me to drive a minivan.

Color of choice, black!

There will be two vehicles purchased closely together depending on where our next station is going to be. If we go back to the states, we will both get new vehicles. If  we stay overseas, then Mr. Man will purchase something from that country and I will get a new car. 

I would love to hear opinions, thoughts, advice, recommendations, etc. We are hoping to purchase a car in the next 3 - 6 months!